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A high court has canceled a television license auction in Greece, dealing a blow to the country's left-wing government which carried out the sale as part of an anti-corruption drive.

Judges from the Council of State court ruled 14-11 late Wednesday that the auction in September was unconstitutional because the process bypassed an independent media regulator.

The ruling means the government will have to pay back money it has received from the 246 million euro ($275 million) sale. And its plans to reduce the number of national private broadcasters from seven to four will be canceled.

The auction triggered a major political spat over corruption and control of the news media.

Opposition parties accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras — whose left-wing Syriza party is a relative newcomer to mainstream politics — of trying to gain influence over the news media.

Tsipras had made the auction the centerpiece of his reforms. He argued it would sever a corrupt relationship between traditionally powerful political parties and industrialists who used media ownership to seek lucrative state contracts — a relationship the government said created decades of financial mismanagement and was a cause of Greece's crippling financial crisis.

In weekend speech to party members, Tsipras had promised to defend the license overhaul.


A volunteer firefighter charged with arson in connection with a brush fire that burned 190 acres in New Hampshire and prompted the evacuation of 17 homes is due to make his first court appearance.
 
David Plante is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Keene.

The 31-year-old Stoddard man was charged Friday with one count of arson, but more charges are expected. He remains in custody after refusing to meet with a bail commissioner.

The fire started Thursday in Stoddard, about 40 miles west of the state capital of Concord. No injuries were reported.

Police have not said what evidence led them to Plante. It's unclear if he has an attorney.



Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's law license will remain suspended after the state's highest court on Friday denied her request to have it reinstated while she fights criminal charges of leaking secret grand jury material and lying about it.

The court's unanimous rejection could pave the way to an unprecedented vote in the state Senate on whether to remove her from office.

A Kane spokesman said the first-term Democrat was disappointed, but not surprised.

A Senate vote could happen in the coming weeks after a special committee spent about three months exploring the question of whether Kane could run the 800-employee law enforcement office without a law license. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said senators will discuss the matter when they reconvene in the Capitol next week.

"It's an important issue," Corman said. "It's really unprecedented, so I think it deserves to be addressed."

In seeking to have her license reinstated, Kane argued that Justice Michael Eakin should not have participated in the suspension vote because of his involvement in a salacious email scandal.

In its one-page order, the Democrat-controlled court said Kane did not seek the recusal of Eakin "at the earliest possible time." As a result, the justices said, Kane gave up her ability to object on that basis to the court's unanimous decision in September to suspend her license.

Kane has released hundreds of emails, including some that Eakin sent and received through a private email account in the name of John Smith. Eakin, a Republican, has been suspended with pay by his fellow justices while he awaits trial before an ethics court that could result in his being kicked off the bench.




A federal appeals court has ruled that tobacco companies had no basis to challenge a Food and Drug Administration report on menthol cigarettes, which the industry alleged was written by experts with conflicts of interest.

The decision by a three-judge panel overturns a lower court ruling that barred the FDA from using the report and ordered the agency to reform its committee of tobacco advisers.

The 2011 report from the agency's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee concluded that menthol flavoring leads to increased smoking rates, particularly among teens, African Americans and those with low incomes. The report said removing the flavoring would make it easier for some smokers to quit.

Cigarette makers Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the agency, alleging conflicts of interest by several members who had previously testified against tobacco companies in court.

But Judge Stephen Williams, writing for the court, states that the companies had no legal basis to challenge the makeup of the committee. Williams rejected company arguments that they could be damaged by the apparent conflicts as "too remote and uncertain." The opinion was issued Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Despite the victory for the federal government, the ruling may have limited impact on the FDA or its panel. Last year the FDA announced that four members of its tobacco products advisory panel had either resigned or were removed, following the previous court ruling against the agency.

In 2013, the FDA conducted its own review of menthol cigarettes, concluding they pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes. But it did not make a recommendation on whether to limit or ban them.




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